- Starring: Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Ian McKellen (X-Men) and more.
- Directed by: Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings)
- Synopsis: “The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.”
- Rating: Rated PG-13 for fantasy action and violence and frightening images.
- Must-Watch Trailer:
Join a band of misfits once again in this epic journey’s continuation as a Hobbit, a band of ferocious Dwarves and a Wizard traverse multiple arduous miles towards the Lonely Mountain in order to reclaim a heritage lost. J.R.R. Tolkein’s classic book, The Hobbit, as portrayed by Peter Jackson, is continued with this second of three installments that exceeds the mediocre first segment in many ways and leads to expectation of further adventure and excitement.
Admittedly not the biggest fan of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (you can read my full review of the first part of the trilogy HERE) which I felt lacked in pacing as it took forever to start the journey in order to fluff the material to stretch across three full-length films, this second one is an improvement to say the least.
Jackson, once again…and almost effortlessly now…combines amazing visuals along with adventure, music and great characters in his usual and appreciated manner in this sequel and it all works very well. Craftily, Jackson not only blends adventure and action with a bit of drama, but the amount of comedy mixed in also provides several enjoyable chuckles and laughs in the middle of this darker installment.
Each of the characters shine a bit more than in the previous and the inclusion and/or mention of several fan favorite characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy provides even further attraction to this sequel that doesn’t seem to stop in its excitement or intrigue. Followers of Tolkein’s writings will undoubtedly see some elements or parts that were not only alluded to towards the end of the book but were necessary for storytelling onscreen, and, it is in this that Jackson deserves a bit extra laud for respectfully telling the story and leading up to future events without deviating from the original source (although, I’m sure an unlikely love/infatuation was NOT a part of the book)
At a point, the film almost seems TOO full of characters and sub-stories that I found myself actually grateful that Smeagol was absent in this installment as there is plenty more to focus on. Orcs, a dark lord, Gandalf, the ring, the dwarfs, Elves, a dragon!!! The film definitely does not lack in characters and challenges faced. “New” characters Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), Bard (Luke Evans) and Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) are VERY welcome and add so much more to the film in their roles. (I’m not the biggest fan of Cumberbatch as he just doesn’t strike me as fantastic, personally, but I REALLY liked his voice work as Smaug and it may just be my favorite role of his to date.)
It did seem to lack a bit in the music, however. With the release of the soundtrack in stores this week and the amount of praise and excitement it received, I expected to be blown away by the soundtrack in the film, but was not. No true memorable song (such as THIS) but at least a few times there are several motifs that come from The Lord of the Rings trilogy allowing for further continuance and connection. Visually, Jackson does not disappoint (I did not see this in 3D and therefore, at this point, cannot make a recommendation on seeing it as such).
The funnest part of the film experience for many on a 2nd time viewing will undoubtedly be the end as the film abruptly ceases in classic Jackson/LOTR style right when you want the story to continue. I say “2nd time viewing” because you will already know what to expect but all other viewers in the audience will gasp and groan aloud with disappointment ready for the film to continue for another 3 hours just to see what happened. I laughed myself as everyone around me uttered out comments of shock and disbelief at the realization that 12 more months must transpire prior to seeing what happens next!
In closing, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a familiar, and yet new, solid sequel that may very well end up being the “Empire Strikes Back” of The Hobbit trilogy. Jackson took the criticism from the first it seems and ran with it to create a much more solid springboard for the final chapter to launch from. The stage is set and the battle is at hand.
This sequel contains great visuals (Smaug is amazing), fun characters (the dwarfs and Bilbo add comic relief that is not overdone), cohesive storytelling that leads to further plots and great action that pays tribute to Tolkein’s entire legend onscreen on both sides of this adventure (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). It is not without its slower parts and moments that add very little to the overall film. I was not overly-excited to see this one after being disappointed by the first, but now am glad I did and cannot wait to see the final chapter.
My Score: 4 out of 5 stars for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 250 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
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